Monday, May 21, 2012

Solving the Government / Quality Puzzle: Short-Term Solution

Paul Borawski challenged us to find an answer as to why the “government” has not embraced quality to whatever standard that they need to embrace it and other Influential Voices have complained about the failings of government agencies are directly related to quality engagement and that there needs to be a “raising the voice of quality” moment.  Paul, we do we need more voices but where do they come from?
We often forget there are already strong advocates to quality in government.  ASQ members Guy Gordon, Brian DeNiese, Ruth Henderson, and Gary Gehring have talked to me about their successes and their frustrations regarding their efforts to positively impact Canadian provincial government.   Bruce Waltuck, another ASQ Influential Voice, speaks eloquently on the understanding of how to deal with complex problems, the kind that governments often face, that traditionally quality tools do not address. The Honorable Graham Richard can talk to the successes that the applications of Lean have provided to Fort Wayne, Indiana during his term as that city’s mayor. There are other success stories in other countries, states, and municipalities.  These success stories may not make the evening news because we sometimes forget that monumental problems often overshadow the successes that can be found out there. 
The number one problem to success implementation of quality in government is the lack of consistent application of quality because leadership changes so often.  In a previous blog entry I detailed how all the good things that the previous Secretary of the Navy accomplished regarding the implementation of Lean and Six Sigma in the Navy has been almost undone with the current Secretary.   Leadership changes kill the majority of quality programs because no one thought past the current need or there is another more urgent one. 
So, how do we fix it?  ASQ Influential Voice Jennifer Stepniowski’s blog entry this month is the best short-term solution that I can come up with.  She supports the adage of think globally, act locally. So, how are you raising your voice of quality in your community?  Are you voting?  Do you understand the candidates’ positions?  Are you getting involved in solving local problems?  Are you satisfied when you local public education system thinks that locking down schools create a good learning environment? It is no longer enough as a quality professional to just point a finger at a problem; we have to participate in helping to find the solution.
The long term issue is culture.  Leaders must experience the value of quality.  Where do they get that opportunity?  Where is it taught to them and how is it practiced?  If you think about it, ASQ follows the religious model of converting leaders to quality.  So is ASQ doing all it can to convert leaders?  For my answer you will have to wait until the next blog post.
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